Last week was mentally chaos for me. A few days were really rough, and all I wanted was to be at home. I knew God wanted me to stay here though. Once I got back on track somewhere around the middle of last week, I could see how God was moving again.
Since the end of last week, things have felt “normal” for what’s been my life down here for almost two months. It’s been a welcomed change. I don’t want to expound too much on the week and a half prior to now, but I’ll just say that my focus was lacking, doubt was imminent, anger raged internally at times, and it was the hardest week I’ve had here.
The last SCC team got here late Saturday night/Sunday morning. Sunday was their day to settle in. Monday through Wednesday, we painted houses in Libertador Bolivar again. Awesome things happened through serving in that way. Relationships with families were formed, the gospel was shared by groups, and the team did a phenomenal job being His hands and feet while serving.
One day, a girl from the team decided that she wanted to have “cupcakes and conversation” with the teenage girls in Libertador Bolivar about relationships and culture. She got other team members to do a skit with her. It gave me chills. I knew from that moment that God had something great for Carlee’s idea and her heart behind the idea. There was a time for testimony, personal stories were shared, cultural issues of violence, date rape, drug and alcohol presence, and the desire to be loved and wanted were all talked about. Carlee spoke life into these girls. She told them their infinite value, fearfully and wonderfully made like Psalm 139 says. Some of us shared some of our stories and lies we tend to believe. We couldn’t seem to really get the girls from the community to talk, but when Carlee started the activity, the girls jumped in!
There was one piece of poster paper where every girl was supposed to put the lies that they believe most. Then there was a poster for words of truth found from an identify by God. The girls wrote and wrote and wrote on the lies paper. Among the list were words like alone, unwanted, not worthy, ugly, without beauty, and more. They were all things that break your heart to hear. After we wrote on both papers and discussed them, we burned the lies…literally. We lit them with fire. All that was left we’re ashes.
It’s a beautiful metaphor for how Christ erases our identity within ourselves, burns it to ashes, and gives us a new identity in Him: valuable, worthy, wanted, beautiful, not alone, wonderfully made, with purpose, and more. You could see the freedom that a couple girls out of the twelve that came had as hey watched the lies burn. Some girls from our group took Polaroid pictures of each girl that came individually for them to keep, and we all shared cupcakes together. God was all over that event, and it was all because He gave Carlee a passion and desire to share with teen girls. More so, she responded with obedience. None of us will likely see the impact that event had on those girls, or see the seeds that were planted on this side of heaven. I just know He was there.
Then one day right before the team left, we went up a hill that overlooked San Jose and the ocean. We took spontaneous turns praying over the town and praying that the enemy would lose the foothold that he thinks he has. On the way up, I saw a dolphin skull, a devoured sea turtle’s remains on the beach and a dog skull, and an intact donkey’s bottom jaw bone on the way up the hill. All of this reminded me time and time again of Ezekiel 37 and the valley of dry bones. So I prayed that God would bring the bones to life, and I prayed that He will breathe life into the people. I prayed that the enemy would flee. I prayed that lives will be changed and that Jesus would be so attractive to the people that there would be an awakening. God has great things for this place. I know He does. I’ve been able to experience it all summer. I can’t wait to see how He continues to show up my last week here.
– Rachael McIlrath